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Noticia de un secuestro … The possessive of it … UK Swearing 23rd of March, 2006 POST·MERIDIEM 06:28

Just finished Gabriel García Márquez’ News of a Kidnapping,  in translation to English and received as a birthday present from my sisters. Colombian society of the time seemed really dysfunctional to me from it; there was massive, constant media coverage of the abducted journalists and political hangers-on, while hundreds of people were being murdered unremarked every day, with minimal media coverage and sometimes even minimal official cataloguing of what corpses turned up where.

Also interesting was the overall melodrama of the main players, and that the translator shares her approach with that of one of my work colleagues; that is, look at the sentence to be translated, write down the first thing that comes to mind in the target language, if it’s grammatically correct, then it’ll do. No real desire to write idiomatically in the target language, despite being a native speaker of it.

Jon Snow says this, from the Snowmail daily newsletter, http://​www.​channel4.​com/​news/​snowmail/​wednesday.​html (I imagine it’ll go away next week):

“However green this budget may claim to be, it’s sheer weight in processed paper, which I note is not recycled, is hardly a good curtain raiser.” 

Now, Jon Snow is one of the most articulate, literate, considered, English-speakers in the world, and he got “its” wrong. I submit that we should (or more exactly, the major publishing houses should) move to “it’s” for the possessive of “it,” just as we have “one’s” for the possessive of “one.”

This paper (PDF) is really interesting; commissioned by the BBC, it describes British attitudes to various swear words in the media. From the executive summary:

“Participants say they have noticed an increase in the use of swearing and offensive language in daily life. It was generally disliked, but participants did not feel there was much they could do about it outside their home. However, their acceptance of ‘strong’ language did not signal an approval of it.”
I wonder how long the trend towards more acceptance of swear words will last in the UK; I suspect as more and more people react really strongly to “nigger” and “Paki” they will get used more in some circles because of their force, and this will rouse further feelings against them, leading to a puritanical circle that will take in other swear words. Or is it even possible for a swear word to take on force that it’s lost in the past again? Paper via Ron Hardin in sci.lang.

Word of the day: шароби апелсин means “orange juice” according to one of my phrasebooks; апелсин is identical in sound to the Swedish and Russian word for “orange,” however, and I suspect there is a much more Persian word for the fruit that doesn’t come ultimately from Germanic.

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